• Graveyard Shift

12 Macabre Items Cultures Have Used To Ward Against Evil

Whether danger comes in the form of demons, witches, plagues, or spirits, people have always turned to all sorts of weird objects to ward off evil. Every religion has its sacred objects, writings, prayers, and lucky charms from around the world. Every culture has its superstitions, including good luck charms and amulets to thwart everything from daily misfortune and illness to demons and witches.

It seems that as long as people have been blaming unseen evil forces for all the awful things in this world, they have also been crediting magical objects with protecting them from evil. Collected here are various talismans and strange objects that protect you from curses, hauntings, and various forms of evil.  

  • Dried Cat Corpses Keep Evil At Bay

    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    During the Middle Ages and after, it was believed stuffing a mummified cat into your floorboards or ceiling rafters would protect the house from witchcraft. Many cultures believe cats to be magical creatures who are in touch with the spirit world, so perhaps it's not surprising that after death, they would serve as a metaphysical scarecrow of sorts. (Of course, some historians think the dead cats might also have been used as a real "scarecrow" to warn mice away.)

  • Witch Bottles Filled With Human Urine

    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    During the 16th and 17th centuries, witch bottles were all the rage. They were meant not only to protect the wearer from any evil spells a witch might throw their way, but to reverse the spells, sending them back to their creator.

    These bottles contained disgusting potions that often included various herbs and human urine - naturally. Anyone with bladder issues would boil their urine, so the witch would not only get her own bad juju back, but some brand-new bladder infections to deal with, as well. Sometimes they’d add nails and pins to the bottle of urine to cause their witch antagonist additional suffering.

  • Chinese Curved Roofs Are Meant To Confuse Ghosts

    Photo: IceNineJon / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    In Chinese tradition, spirits are believed to only travel in straight lines, so curves can throw them off. They just loop right back around and go back whence they came. Traditional rooftops in China are also often topped with statues of mythical guardians and have inscriptions in the tiles to help ward off any wandering evil spirits.  

  • "Haint Blue" Paint Disorients The Dead

    Photo: ilovebutter / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Apparently, ghosts lose all common sense in the afterlife, because not only are they suddenly incapable of crossing water, but they’ll mistake the color blue for an entire body of water, or even for the sky. At least that’s what the Gullah, descendants of African slaves in the Carolina Low Country, believed. "Haint" (or ghost) blue is the mixture they concocted to look like water, since it's widely believed in many cultures that ghosts can't cross bodies of water. It’s often used to paint porch floors and ceilings throughout the American South.

    Basically, if you paint your front porch blue, ghosts won’t be able to get in. They’ll think your roof is the sky and try to fly straight up through it, or they’ll think your floor is the ocean and leave.